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covered, already existed in the earth, or upon its surface, long before the researches of men brought them to light; and many that we imagine to be modern discoveries were very probably known to the ancients.
Were the world (what from the nature of things is impossible) the work of chance, the same fortuitous agent that caused its first existence might operate to-day as well as then; and we should be continually witnessing new productions. But the world and all created things being formed by a perfect Being, every thing that is made bears the stamp and broad impression of an all-powerful God, which established the foundation of the earth with wisdom, and formed in the beginning every thing that was essential to the preservation and well-being of the whole; so that there is no necessity for a new creation, or new laws, but all moves in harmony, guided by eternal sapience. In all, and through all, God is magnified and glorified: and to him is due eternal honour and everlasting praise.
Of Caves found in Mountains.
CAVES are generally found in mountains, and very seldom in plains. They are frequently caused by the eruptions of volcanoes, and the explosions of earthquakes. But what end do such chasms answer? Though we could discover no certain end in their existence, we may take for granted that they are not formed in vain.
However, the purposes they answer are often evident; they serve as reservoirs for water, which may be had recourse to upon a deficiency of rain. They are also useful for the freer circulation of air through the earth, by more readily permitting its ingress and egress, and thus lessen the frequency of earthquakes. They sometimes fill with water, and form lakes; such is the lake Zirchnitzer, in Carniola, which fills in June, and loses its waters among the neighbouring mountains in September. It is sometimes navigable, and at others so dry, that the inhabitants may plough, sow, reap, and hunt in it. Another use of caves is
the shelter and retreat which, during winter, they offer to animals. Hence we find more cause to admire the wisdom and bounty of God; and the deeper our researches penetrate into nature, the less shall we find of useless matter, and the greater reason we shall have to adore the sublimity and perfections of God in his works.
Circulation of Sap in Trees.
THE trees, which during several months appeared entirely dead, begin gradually to revive, and in the space of a few weeks will give much more evident signs of vitality; the buds will sprout, open, and the sweet blossoms expand. Though we have observed this revolution at the commencement of several successive springs, we have perhaps been ignorant of the means conducing to this end. The effects which we perceive in spring to take place in trees and other vegetables are caused by the circulation of the sap, which begins to move in the vessels containing it when acted upon by a milder air and increase of warmth. As the life of animals depends upon the circulation of blood, so does the life and growth of plants depend on the circulation of the sap, which is to them what blood is to animals. To effect this, nature has formed and adapted all parts of vegetables to concur in the preparation, motion, and conservation, of this nourishing juice.
It is principally by the bark that the sap, in the spring, begins to ascend from the roots into the body of the tree, and that even throughout the year life and nourishment are distributed to the branches and to the fruit which they bear.* The woody part of the tree is composed of small
*From the experiments of Coulomb and Knight, it would ap pear, that the sap does not ascend through the bark, but through the wood; and it is well known that a plant continues to grow even when stripped of a great part of the bark, which would not be the case if the sap ascended through the bark; and those who are in the habit of obtaining sap from trees are obliged to carry their incisions deeper than the bark, or they are unable to procure any sap.-E.
longitudinal fibres, extending in spiral lines, closely united together, from the roots to the summit of the trees. Amongst these fibres, some are so extremely small and fine, that a single one, scarcely as large as a hair, contains some thousand fibrillæ. There is an innumerable multitude of little tubes, in which the sap circulates, extending through all the body of the tree to the remotest branches; some conveying it from the root to the summit, and others returning it back again. During the heat of the day the sap rises through the ascending tubes, and returns by the descending ones in the cool of the evening. These tubes pass through the leaves, which are also supposed to answer the purpose of respiratory organs, and absorb the dew and moisture of the atmosphere.
The sap then is distributed through every part of the tree; its aqueous part evaporates by the pores of the vessels, whilst the oily, sulphurous, earthy, and saline particles blend together, to nourish the tree and promote its growth. If the circulation of the sap is checked, if the internal organization of the tree is destroyed, either by a very severe frost, or by old age, or by some accident, the tree will die.
After such reflections as these, we shall no longer view the tree at this season with indifference, nor consider the change they are about to undergo as unworthy of our attention. Neither shall we observe the renovation of nature, without thinking of that God who has given life to all creatures, provided the trees with appropriate juices, given them the power of circulating the sap in vessels, and distributed to them life, growth, and nutriment. Yet how many people year after year, unregarded let this season pass, and know less of the life and beauty of spring, displayed in plants and trees, than the cattle browsing on the plains. If ever they are blessed with another return of this season, may they begin to feel, and love to enjoy, the beauties of nature; and at length know, that the infinite Creator is near to us in every part of his works, and that each of his creatures proclaims his greatness. And may the Lord God, in his infinite mercy, grant, that whilst all nature rejoicing feels the reanimating influence of spring, we may awaken from our slumber, and walk forth to enjoy his presence, our hearts softened, and our minds prepared by his divine influence to know and to glorify his holy name.
Ignorance of Futurity.
If we are ignorant of future events, we must not merely trace the cause to the narrow and limited faculties of the soul in its present state of existence, but we must go farther, till we arrive at the Creator himself, whose will and pleasure it is that the knowledge of futurity should be denied us. He knew the strength of man, and the extent of knowledge his imperfect nature was capable of bearing. The knowledge of futurity, like the splendour of the noon-day sun, could not be steadily contemplated; it would be fatal to the happiness of man, and dangerous to his virtue.
Supposing that the future events of our life marked a bright and prosperous tract; whilst we viewed this at a distance, and anticipated that happiness which we knew certainly awaited us, our present enjoyment would cease, we should no longer be contented and cheerful, but wait with impatient anxiety for those blessings which were held up to our view. But, on the contrary, was the prospect of future contingencies gloomy and marked by affliction and sufferings, the moment we read our fate our happiness would cease; the days which, hitherto had been passed in peace and tranquillity would now rise in sorrow and depart in gloom. With a known evil impending over our heads, each morning bringing us nearer to the dread moment, we should live in hopeless misery, the prey of sorrow and despair, insensible of all the blessings around us. How infinitely merciful and wise then is that God who has shrouded futurity in darkness, gradually unfolding the veil as the events occur; so that we are never at once overwhelmed by the torrent of adversity, nor confounded by the blaze of certain prosperity!
Let us then never suffer ourselves to be disappointed by the delusive hopes of happiness, nor be rendered miserable and wretched by feeling the weight of misfortunes before they arrive. Let us rather thank the Almighty that our ignorance of futurity saves us from many a pang of inquie. tude, and delivers us from many a throb of anxious dread and fearful despondency. If we feel assured of the grace of God through the mediation of Christ, we have just rea
son to hope that futurity will unfold to us with joy and gladness; and as there is a just and gracious God, who orders and directs the universe, who knows all the events of our lives, and before whose view is continually present the circle of eternity; we may with safety, when we lie down to sleep, commend ourselves to his care, undisturbed as to what may happen during the night; and when the morning sun summons us to our duties, we may trust ourselves to his protection, without anxiety for the events which are to befall us during the day. And in the hour of trial, when dangers threaten and destruction seems to impend, let us still remember the goodness of God and repose upon his protecting arm, in perfect assurance that whatever happens is for our good.
Gradual Approach of Night.
NIGHT is a blessing bestowed upon us by the Creator, and is wisely and mercifully directed to advance by degrees. The sudden transition from the light of day to the gloom of night would be highly inconvenient and terrific. So immediate a change would occasion a general interruption to the labours of men, and terror would be spread over the earth; all living creatures would feel its influence, and the organs of sight must suffer considerably by the suddenness of the transition. Hence it is wisely ordered, that darkness does not surprise us suddenly in the midst of our occupations, but advances by slow gradations, and the twilight which precedes it leaves us time to finish our most pressing affairs, and to make the necessary arrangements. By this timely warning, the approach of night does not interrupt or incommode us.
But whence proceeds that lingering light, which at the end of each day remains to temper and soften the gloomy aspect of night? We no longer see the sun, and yet a degree of lustre still cheers us. The atmosphere which surrounds us refracts the rays of the sun, projected on its superior surface, and it continues to receive these rays after the earth